Woman’s claims against dating agencies dismissed
A 64-year-old blind woman who sued two internet dating agencies because she claimed she was discriminated against has had her claims dismissed.
Marian Kane of Sunvalley Court, Sunvalley Drive, Cork, brought cases against the dating agencies, Intro and Two’s Company, claiming that each had discriminated against her on the basis of her blindness.
Ms Kane had brought cases against the dating agencies to the Workplace Relations Commission but they were dismissed. Claims were brought to Cork Circuit Court yesterday by way of appeal and once again they were dismissed.
When Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin heard the evidence in the first case against Intro and dismissed that, Ms Kane complained that he should not have been hearing the case because she said there was a conflict of interest because she had been in his court previously.
The judge rejected this suggestion and asked if she was going ahead with the second case against Two’s Company.
She said she was but added: “I suppose you will find there was no discrimination against me there either.”
Patrick Barrett, barrister, said both agencies denied any discrimination and mentioned their membership included people with disabilities including blindness. In respect of the Intro agency, he said that Ms Kane’s €50 deposit was returned to her because she became litigious and aggressive on the phone.
Ms Kane said she heard an ad on the radio in May 2016 about the dating agency being inclusive so she inquired about joining, telling them at the outset that she was blind. She said felt totally discriminated against and that she was part of society too.
Fergal Harrington, who runs the Intro agency, said that having made an arrangement for an introductory meeting and then rescheduled it to suit Ms Kane, he said that she said: “You don’t want me, you are turning me away because I am blind.”
Mr Harrington said they still had an appointment to meet at this point and it became very awkward and very unusual, with the conversation flipping constantly from hot to cold.
“I knew this woman was setting us up,” he said. It was a very difficult conversation… She said ‘I will take this to the bitter end, you have discriminated against me’.”
Judge Ó Donnabháin said: “I accept evidence of Mr Harrington. This relationship [with the agency] went off because of the attitude of the plaintiff in this case. There is no question of discrimination. Harrington carried out his business in a proper and legal manner.”
Ms Kane said a woman on the phone from the Two’s Company agency said to her when she said she was blind: “You cannot see the person and you are not a size 10.”
Mr Barrett said such a comment was never made. Ms Kane insisted it was.
Jennifer Haskins of Two’s Company said her assistant became very distressed dealing with Ms Kane on the phone so she [Ms Haskins] took over the call and informed Ms Kane there was a waiting list at that time in May 2016 for women in Munster signing up to the agency and she would put her on the waiting list.
Judge Ó Donnabháin said, “I cannot find any discrimination [by Two’s Company]. An agreement never came to fruition. I dismiss the case with costs [against Ms Kane].”
Marian Kane in her home in Cork City.